Tim Pawlenty’s Dumb Idea: No Tax Help For Members Of Congress

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty doesn’t think Members of Congress should be allowed to hire anyone to help them with their income taxes:

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Tuesday proposed a simple solution to fixing the nation’s incomprehensible tax system: Require members of Congress to do their own.

“No help of an accountant, a lawyer or a tax specialist,” he said in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“And if they can’t do it, we give them a certification they can go get some help. But I’d like every one of those individuals to have to do their own taxes every year and live with the mindless burdens we put on the American people.”

I get what Pawlenty is getting at here, and I lament how complicated the tax system is as much as anyone, but this strikes me as being as silly as the idea that Members of Congress who criticized ObamaCare shouldn’t take advantage of the health insurance available to Members of Congress.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Taxes, US Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Jay Tea says:

    Doug, it’s called “dog fooding.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eating_your_own_dog_food

    And I suspect it isn’t so much intended to be implemented, but to provoke those who would be subjected to it to explain why they should not have to do so.

    Come on, fess up — wouldn’t you LOVE to hear Charlie Rangel explain why he can’t obey the tax laws he put into place? Or why Timothy Geithner should be put in charge of the tax system he spent years cheating?


  2. reid says:

    Yes, this is dumb. It’s just a gimmick for the flat tax/reduce taxes crowd. I imagine most congresspeople know the tax laws can be complex and that it’s normal and expected to hire tax specialists to help. This is, of course, different from cheating on your taxes.

  3. ALP says:

    I have a little different opinion Doug, I doubt that the congressmen and women even read their prepared tax returns. After all we know that they don’t read the bills they vote on. Yes the tax laws are very convoluted and difficult to understand. I feel that they should be simplified to a great degree. However our representatives mainly think of themselves as Intellectuals, Educated, and
    Know all about everything, so they should be able to figure out how to fill out a personal tax return. I also believe that they should be forced to participate in Social Security and Medicare just like we are. I also believe that they do not deserve the retirement or income they now get. After all they only work about three days a week or less if you consider all the breaks they take on our dime. After all they are our employees!

  4. Kyle says:

    I agree with ALP. My two cents would be, is to take out 90 year old senators who have been there for 16 years and are only there because of the power. They do nothing to help out society except vote on bills they don’t understand or can’t even read. Start to shorten senators term and limit them to add fresh new ideals.

    I know Tim P. is young and has some wild views and ideals for some people. But I would rather vote for a young guy with these kind of views, then stick on the path were on. So far Obama isn’t getting the job done like he promised. Most Americans know this, hence the house dramaticly changing seats to the Republicans.